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Retrofit a Microscope 

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Retrofit a Microscope 

Written By: nuessOr 



C-clamp (1) 

• Small USB hub (1) 

Hacksaw (1) 

Wood screws (2) 

Hobby knifed) 

Wall adapter 5 V(1) 

Multimeter (1) 

Power connector (1) 

Screwdriver (1) 

matchina your hub dimensions or your 

Soldering iron (1) 

wall adapter 

Gooseneck LED lamps with USB 

connector (1) 

look at vour prefered electronic discount 

or at 

Plywood size and thickness to fit your 

microscope (1) 

Spray paint (1) 


My girlfriend got a microscope packed in a really nice wooden box, which also provides 
space for all the additional lenses and working materials. But the uses for the microscope 
were really limited, especially because I rarely have transparent stuff to look at and there 
was no light bulb built in. It is a nice traditional microscope with a mirror in the bottom to 

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capture sunlight. 


So it was clear that this microscope needed a proper light source in the bottom and 
additional adjustable lights from the top for viewing non-transparent objects. 


Early on I had in my mind that I needed gooseneck lamps to be able to adjust the lighting to 
my needs. The cheapest gooseneck lamps you can get are laptop keyboard lamps with 
LEDs, which you connect to a USB port. I bought mine directly in China but they are also 
quite cheap at computer/electronic discount sites. All they need is a power source and a 
mechanical support. For this I used a USB hub. You also can get really cheap ones (and, as 
with the hub I had on hand, the performance is often bad, which is why I sacrificed it). So my 
total budget for this project was around $8 US for the three gooseneck lamps. 

Step 1 — What you will need 

• Pictured here is what you mainly 
need for this project: three 
gooseneck LED lamps, one small 
USB hub, and a power connector. It 
is possible that your USB hub 
already has a power connector built 
in; if so, simply use that one. 

• What else you need depends on on 
your microscope. For mine it was 
enough to cut the case of the hub 
on both sides a bit and use some 
plywood to make a "sandwich" that 
press-fits between the legs of the 
microscope base. This sandwich 
forms a good-enough lamp support. 

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Step 2 — Make the LED lamp support 

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• Decide where you would like 
to place the USB hub on 
your microscope and in which 
direction the USB ports should be 

• Make a plan for how you 
would like to fix the USB 
hub in this position. I had to find a 
solution that was not permanent (to 
be able to remove my modification 
and leave behind the untouched 
"historical" microscope). You can 
use what you have at hand, 
screws, adhesive tape, super 

• I decided to place the USB hub 
between the legs of the microscope 
base with all ports to the back. I 
had to make sure that nothing from 
the lamp support is higher than the 
legs because otherwise the 
microscope would not fit anymore 
into its nice storage box. 

• Mark the width between the legs on 
the two plywood pieces and use the 
USB hub to mark the needed depth. 
Cut them into size with the 
hacksaw or similar. 

• Use your plywood pieces, which 
now fit nicely between the 
microscope feet, to mark the width 
on the USB hub. Use the hacksaw 
to cut away what is unneeded. 

• Use two C-clamps to hold all three 
pieces together and drill two small 

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holes from top to bottom through 
the plywood piece. Screw two wood 
screws into these holes. 

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Step 3 — Add the power connector 

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• Remove the wood screws and the 
two plywood pieces. 

• Open the USB hub. Normally you 
find screws somewhere (also look 
under the labels and rubber feet, 
which we don't need anyway). 

• Use the multimeter to make sure 
there is no short circuit between 
the USB power and ground. This 
happens really easily when you cut 
and drill into the PCB. Try to 
remove any junk left from the 
edges of the PCB and the drill hole. 
In my case I had to desolder a cut- 
in-half capacitor which made a 
short circuit. 

• Decide where and how to 
place the power connector. 

If your hub has a power connector 
it is possible that it is now in the 
wrong place. 

• In my case the hub didn't have a 
power connector and I had to add 
one. To make space to put the 
connector into the case, I 
desoldered one of the USB 
connectors (I only need three), 
removed some PCB that was in the 
way, and voila - there was a space 
for the power connector. 

• Connect the power connector to the 
USB hub. You can use the solder 
points from the USB connector for 
this or the solder point where the 
power plug was connected before. 

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If you like you can add some glue 
to protect the connector and the 
solder joints from mechanical 
• Plug in the wall adapter and test 
the modified hub with your lamps. 

Step 4 — Assembly 

• Paint the wood pieces and the USB 
hub case. I made mine black to 
match the color of the microscope. 
If you like, you can also paint the 

• Put together the modified USB hub. 

• Screw the "sandwich" together. 

• Add the finished lamp support to 
your microscope. 

• If you like, add some rubber feet 
under the lamp support and the 
microscope. (Mine had just the 
bare metal to stand on before.) 

• Add the gooseneck LED lamps and 
connect the wall adapter/power 

• Have fun testing your new 
retrofitted microscope! 

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